Hazard pay for health workers
Toledo Blade, April 20
The cheers from strangers, the free cups of coffee, the handmade signs from children are all lovely gestures of appreciation for health-care workers putting themselves in harm’s way to take care of coronavirus patients.
But as heartfelt as all those sincere gestures are, they are not enough to make up for dangers these professionals are facing in an unprecedented crisis.
President Trump has said he is considering a plan for “hazard pay” to adequately compensate America’s health-care workers. Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown followed up on the President’s suggestion with a letter urging Mr. Trump to support including hazard pay in a second coronavirus relief bill.
“These are really brave people,” the President said. “We are asking the hospitals to do it and consider something, including bonuses, and I think they’re entitled to it. If anybody is entitled to it, they are.”
Mr. Brown and Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman both believe the recently approved $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill will be just the first in a series of measures Congress will have to approve to help the country through this unprecedented crisis.
Any subsequent bill should include money for health-care-worker hazard pay.
The long hours and surge of the coronavirus patients on the horizon are daunting enough. But health-care workers are taking care of their communities without adequate personal protective equipment. They are risking their own health and the health of their families to do their work.
So far about 20 percent of the Ohioans who have tested positive for the coronavirus are health-care workers. The doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers who go to work every day know this, and yet they go anyway.
Getting through the pandemic is frightening for all. For most of us, though, getting through it means staying home and staying safe. For health-care workers on the front lines, it means facing great risk with every shift. That’s a hazard none of them signed up for, and they should be compensated for it with more than our thanks.